Let’s Talk about Bell and Cause-Related Marketing

If your Facebook newsfeed was anything like mine was yesterday, it showcased an ongoing list of conflicting opinions over Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign.

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The main argument:

Side A:
Believes that the capitalist nature of Bell as a conglomerate outweighs the benefits of their pseudo-do-good-campaign (that Bell itself is profiting more than the charities that receive the donations).

 

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Bell’s Tweet this morning, the morning after the #Bellletstalk 2017 campaign.

Side B:
Believes that the money donated and the encouraged discussion of mental health issues outweigh the branding benefits that Bell receives from the campaign.

 

This actually takes me back to many ethical discussions had in university over Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Cause-Related Marketing.

Definitions:

Corporate Social Responsibility: “A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes, (2) by contributing educational and social programs, and (3) by earning adequate returns on the employed resources” – Business Dictionary

Cause-Related Marketing: “Joint funding and promotional strategy in which a firm’s sales are linked (and a percentage of the sales revenue is donated) to a charity or other public cause. However, unlike philanthropy, money spent in cause-related marketing is considered an expense and is expected to show a return.” – Business Dictionary

Essentially, corporations are facing more criticism on their bad-guy-reputations, public relation teams then work to combat that negative image by associating themselves with a good cause. The bad guys aren’t going anywhere, they’re just wearing the mask of their non-profit partners. Does this really hurt anyone though? Some argue that Cause-Related Marketing is good thing, yes, the rich continue to get richer, but a charity benefits at the same time.

 

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A screenshot of the Let’s Talk home page today.

Since it’s creation in 2006, Bell Let’s Talk has donated 79 million dollars to Canadian mental health initiatives, this year alone they raised over 6.5 million dollars. On Bell’s Results/Impact page, they list which programs they are donating to each year and how much is allotted to each organization. The benefiting partners of 2017 are: CISSS de Lanaudière ($300,000); Embrace Life Council ($250,000); McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital ($250,000); Queen’s University ($1,000,000); St. John Ambulance ($150,000); and Strongest Families Institute ($2,000,000). I’m not a math whiz, but those numbers don’t add up to 6.5 million dollars. Apparently, the rest is divided into smaller grants that you can apply for (if eligible) through their Community Fund.

 

typingThose are the monetary benefits of this Cause-Related Marketing campaign, but there are also social benefits like the efforts taken to minimize the existing stigma around mental health. #BellLetsTalk encouraged many people on my social media feeds to share personal anecdotes about their own struggles that I would never have known otherwise. However, I am sure that many people continue to hold back personal truths online so that future employers cannot discover that they have a mental illness. For those who are brave enough to disclose their mental health histories online, I applaud you. You are taking a risk at exposing your true self and letting others no that they are not alone.

While perusing Twitter, I came across another trending hashtag: #BellLetsActuallyTalk. The following examples highlight a common issue that many tweeters had with Bell’s campaign.

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My argument is similar to that of last week’s Blue Monday blog post; just because we are focusing on a good cause for a day, doesn’t mean that people cannot continue the practise for the rest of the year. Isn’t bringing attention to a worthy topic a good thing?

Let’s look at #BellLetsTalk as a conversation starter for the rest of the year and recognize that help from a conglomerate is better than no help at all.

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Struggling with SAD-ness: Blue Monday and Maintaining Mental Health

(Today’s featured image/header is a self-portrait painting I did in highschool when I was 16, acrylics on canvas)

As “Blue Monday” has come and gone this week, I think about the significance of maintaining one’s mental health.

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Blue Monday formula above.

The term Blue Monday was actually coined in 2005 by Sky Travel, a company looking to boost sales for destinations with warmer temperatures. It is believed that Sky Travel hired a university lecturer to come up with “a pseudo-mathematical formula to pinpoint the most depressing day of the year: he combined weather, debt, time since Christmas, motivation levels, the need to take action, and time since New Year’s resolutions were made.” There is no actual scientific evidence that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year, but maybe that’s okay.

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Self-portrait I painted as a teenager when I was feeling down.

Although Blue Monday is somewhat of a recent notion, it doesn’t make it any less of an annual tradition – people still celebrate Valentines Day, Labour Day, and in Canada we now have Family Day in February! As time passes, people will likely start to care less about the history and more about the positive associations and memories that come with Blue Monday. The label encourages people to put effort into their happiness and check in on one’s mood. Sometimes being reminded that other people are also experiencing hard times can make someone feel better – feel less alone. Mental health is a difficult thing to measure in quantifiable terms, so finding scientific evidence of the most depressing day of the year would prove to be difficult as well.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder
“Weather often affects people’s moods. Sunlight breaking through clouds can lift our spirits, while a dull, rainy day may make us feel a little gloomy. While noticeable, these shifts in mood generally do not affect our ability to cope with daily life. Some people, however, are vulnerable to a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. For them, the shortening days of late autumn are the beginning of a type of clinical depression that can last until spring. This condition is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD.” – Canadian Mental Health Association

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) acknowledges what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which could realistically be connected to the origins of Blue Monday. Approximately 10% of Canada’s population is affected by the reduction of sunlight in our winter months. This means that Sky Travel’s creation of Blue Monday was capturea brilliant PR move – a quick solution to combat SAD is to hop on a flight to an all-inclusive beach resort and soak up some rays. However, taking a last-minute vacation isn’t in the cards for everyone, especially after an expensive December.

Like the capitalist society that we are, other corporations have jumped on board the Blue Monday bandwagon. Discounts, sales, or one day deals actually help us afford to treat ourselves, even if it’s something small. For example, I got an email from Cineplex last week informing me that my Scene points would be worth double (get a movie ticket for half the amount of scene points) for one day only, for Blue Monday.


collage1.jpgI asked my mom if she wanted to come see
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with me (second time for myself, first time for her) and she was an obvious yes. We ate dinner at home, picked up some grapefruit coolers for after the movie, and went to check out of reality for a couple hours at the theatre.

We did girls-night right:

I think that it’s important to live a balanced lifestyle, or try to at least because I don’t know anyone who has actually mastered this art. We all have a lot going on and you need to remember that as amazing as other people’s lives may look on social media, they’re not perfect either. That’s why this particular capitalist-created day of the year isn’t all that bad. Embrace the concept of taking care of yourself, there are many affordable (or even free) ways to actively work at keeping happy. Start a pinterest board that you can go to when feeling down, one of things that make you happy as well as ideas of free ways to cheer yourself up!

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Sacchan the mysterious and overweight japanese dog from my favourite video.

What are some small things that you do to make yourself smile and maintain your happiness? For me, I look at an excessive amount of dog photos and videos. I’ll finish this week off with my current favourite dog video, enjoy!